Wednesday, 7 December 2016

REVIEW - JEAN OF THE JONESES (STELLA MEGHIE)


And this is coming from someone who'd bend over backwards to defend filmmakers like Stella Meghie. Alas, the evidence suggests that her capabilities in this field of employment are limited, and not merely by budget. Jean of the Joneses is the kind of indie film I'd gladly champion, were it worth the effort. It's not, but nor is it worth the effort to smack it down, so here comes a literally effortless review. Jean Jones is a young, headstrong, entitled writer with a book deal that's working out far cosier for her than for her publishers. She's having relationship woes, not only with boyfriends but with her extended family, each of whose particular character is slowly strangling the others. Jean is played by Taylor Paige, whose resemblance to Azealia Banks only makes her more insufferable. Principal among her problems is that Paige isn't much of an actor, but then the standard of performance ranges so greatly through Jean of the Joneses that she hardly sticks out. A man turns up on her grandmother's doorstep and promptly suffers cardiac arrest and dies before Jean's own eyes - it transpires that he is her grandfather, and this revelation triggers a whole heap of the same as Jean unpicks her family's past and teases out the present secrets of her mother, her aunts and her grandmother. It's simple stuff whose predictability is not mitigated by Meghie's refreshing perspective, both from and upon a mini-community of black American women, nor the film's occasional resemblance to the narratives of classic, femme-focused fiction. Rudimentary staging drains the film of drama, overworked dialogue accentuates the artificiality, lazy editing sucks the life out of every scene, and a horrible jazz soundtrack makes the whole thing feel like it was filmed in an elevator. I'd love to defend Stella Meghie, and I hope to have future opportunities to do just that, but Jean of the Joneses represents no such opportunity, and we'll leave it there.